After funnelling more than $362M into a housing program for asylum seekers just last week, the federal government has confirmed that a big chunk of those funds will go to Toronto.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland joined Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow for a press conference on Friday morning, where they announced that Toronto will be getting $143M through the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP). Those funds will be used to “reimburse costs incurred by the city in 2023 and the first quarter of 2024,” according to the official federal announcement.
In addition, the city will receive close to $20M that will be made available to low-income renters in Toronto through the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit. In total, the feds are pledging over $162M to Toronto.
“We believe in Toronto, we believe in working closely with this great city to build this city and to be sure that Torontonians have all the opportunities to flourish,” Freeland said. “A focus, I think for all of us, is housing.”
Speaking specifically to the $143M being injected into the IHAP, Freeland noted it adds to the $97M the feds invested into the program in July.
“Taken together, this support means that the city of Toronto will receive $240M through the Interim Housing Assistance Program this fiscal year alone,” she said. “And it means, critically, that more newcomers will have a safe and stable place to call home while they get settled in Canada.”
Mayor Olivia Chow/X
Friday’s funding announcement comes on the heels of pleas from senior City of Toronto staff for the federal government to step up their supports for asylum claimants. Toronto requested $250M in early January, and the request came with a warning that the city could be forced to add a “federal impacts levy” of 6% to Toronto’s impending residential property tax hike if the feds failed to cough up the funds.
In the time that has elapsed since, however, Chow proposed a lesser hike of just 9.5% (when she tabled her version of the 2024 budget on Thursday).
Although it would seem that Friday’s funding announcement and the lesser, 9.5% property tax hike are related, Chow did not mention this most recent round of federal funding when she unveiled her ‘mayor’s budget’ on Thursday. She did, however, commend the Government of Canada for ‘stepping up’ with $97M in funding for asylum claimants last summer.
Freeland also took a moment on Friday to underline the fact that feds have provided $5.79B in “direct support” to Toronto since 2015.
“In 2023-24 — the current fiscal year alone — the federal government is providing $1.65B directly to the City of Toronto. That is money which is flowing right now,” she added.
“And I think it is worth reflecting on how that compares with the support the city was receiving — or maybe it would be more accurate to say, was not receiving — in 2015 when we first formed government. In 2015-2016, Toronto was receiving just $205M from the federal government. So that is quite a delta: $205M to $1.65B.”